Bulbs for Bees

Bulbs for Bees, September, 2022
It’s that time of year! The fall garden catalogs are filling your mailbox with tempting new bulbs, shrubs and perennials to brighten your gardens in the coming year.

This year, why not consider some of the earliest native bulbs? Called “spring ephemerals,” these bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers bloom in the early spring just as bees are emerging from hibernation, and then they go dormant. Like all native plants, they have co-evolved over thousands of years with the local pollinators that depend on them.

The following bulbs can be hard to find, but worth it! Included is a link to Prairie Moon Nursery, a reliable mail-order nursery that regularly stocks these natives.

  • White Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) –  One of the earliest spring bloomers with trout-shaped, speckled leaves and tiny, yellow flowers on 4-6” stems. Grow with Virginia Bluebells and Spring Beauty. Available as a bare root plant from Prairie Moon Nursery in the spring. ​​Click HERE to view.
  • Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) –  Another early bloomer, this corm has a tiny edible, potato-like corm and pink-veined, white flowers. It grows to just 6” tall in sun to filtered Grow with Bishop’s Cap or Toad Trillium. Available as a bare root plant in the summer and the fall. Click HERE to view.
  • Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) –  This rhizome thrives under the leaf litter of deciduous trees. It has multi-petaled, white flowers with bright yellow stamens in April/May. Grow with Foamflower, Nodding Trillium and Black Bugbane. Available as a bare root plant in the summer. Click HERE to view.
  • Dutchmans Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) – This creamy-white, early bloomer has fragrant flowers shaped like pantaloons. It grows to 10” in mounds in filtered to part shade. Grow with Wild Ginger and Christmas Fern. Available as a bare root plant in the summer and fall. Click HERE to view.
  • Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris cristata) –  This fast-spreading rhizome has masses of pale to deep violet flowers on 4-6” stems with swordlike leaves. It blooms in mid-spring in shade to part-shade. Grow with Wild Geranium and Yellow Trillium. Available as a bare root plant in the spring and fall. Click HERE to view.
  • Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) – This native grows along creeks and stream banks in rich, moist soil. It will grow in sun to filtered shade to a height of one to two feet. Pairs well with Woodland Phlox. Available as a bare root plant in the spring, summer and fall, and in potted trays of 32 plants in spring. Click HERE to view.
  • Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) – Two 6-8” wide umbrella-like leaves have solitary, nodding flowers in late May. It grows on 12” stems in filtered shade, part shade or shade, and can be an aggressive spreader. Grow with ferns for textural contrast. Available as a bare root plant in the spring and fall. Click HERE to view.